Israel News for March 4, 2016

Terror Attack
A female terrorist rammed her car into a group of soldiers at the Gush Etzion junction, the scene of many previous terror attacks. One soldier was hit and wounded while the other soldiers were able to get out of the way and shoot and kill the terrorist. A knife was found on the dashboard of her car. The soldier was evacuated to Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem with light wounds to his legs.

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Hamas Tunnels
The tunnels that Hamas claims they are not digging continue to collapse, killing their occupants. The most recent collapse occurred yesterday when a tunnel collapsed in Khan Yunis killing one terrorist. It was the sixth tunnel collapse in recent months.

Official reports, both in Israel and Gaza, blame the collapses on heavy rains. But many Hamas terrorists believe that Israel is to blame. Many are afraid to enter the tunnels now. Oh well.

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Kotel Compromise
In order to be officially implemented, the compromise agreement reached by the government to create a separate prayer space for non Orthodox prayer at the southern part of the Kotel must be signed by the Minister of Religious Services. But David Azoulay, the Shas MK in charge of the ministry, is refusing to sign it, claiming that he will never do so under “under any circumstances.” Referring to Reform and Conservative Jews, Azoulay added, “They must not be given a foothold among the people of Israel.”

Azoulay’s statements are not sitting well with Interior Minister Aryeh Dery, the head of Shas, who is working – via private conversations with members of the ultra-Orthodox community – to minimize the liberal Jewish movements’ success with regard to the egalitarian prayer space.

On Sunday, Netanyahu is set to meet with Israel’s two chief rabbis and senior Knesset members of the ultra-Orthodox parties. They are expected to ask him to freeze the arrangement or remove the clauses that grant status to the Reform and Conservative movements.

There are different opinions even within the ultra-Orthodox parties. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau has been the driving force behind the opposition to the agreement, while Dery, along with Health Minister Litzman and MK Moshe Garni, both members of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), and the Chief Rabbi of the Kotel are in favor of approving the compromise agreement.

Surprisingly, the strongest opposition to the agreement is coming from groups that broke off from the Women of Wall who demand the right to continue praying in the women’s section of the Kotel while wearing prayer shawls and tefillin and reading from the Torah (which was what motivated the compromise in the first place).

The bottom line is that it doesn’t look like the religious parties will break off from the coalition and cause the government to fall (which they could have already done). Regarding signing the agreement, if Azoulay continues to refuse, the PM can just get someone else to do it.

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